Available in Russian
Author: Benjamin Schonthal
Keywords: antagonistic symbiosis; colonial rule; hierarchy; monarchy; monks; sangha; Theravada; Vinaya
From a subfield focused mainly on secular constitutions in Anglophone and/or European settings, the study of religion and constitutional law has gradually shifted its attention to religiously preferential constitutions in North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. While this shift has produced a rich literature on Islam and constitutional law, it has almost entirely neglected Buddhism. This neglect presents a significant problem for scholars of comparative constitutional law because, as this article contends, some of the most important legal projects in South and Southeast Asia have been projects of Buddhist constitutionalism: attempts to use written constitutions and other basic laws to organize power in ways that protect and preserve Buddhist teachings and institutions, especially the institution of Buddhist monasticism, the sangha. By looking at the premodern roots of Buddhist constitutionalism and examining its distinctive formations in Sri Lanka and Thailand, this article explains how and why this particular form of religious constitutionalism has come to influence politics and law in contemporary South and Southeast Asia. The author briefly shows how the obtained results can contribute to explanation of social, political and legal evolution in other Buddhist countries of the region like Myanmar and Cambodia.
About the author: Benjamin Schonthal – Senior Lecturer in Buddhism/Asian Religions, Religion Programme, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Citation: Schontal B. (2018) Stanovlenie i razvitie buddiyskogo konstitutsionalizma v Yuzhnoy i Yugo-Vostochnoy Azii [Formations of buddhist constitutionalism in South and Southeast Asia]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.27, no.4, pp.57–84. (In Russian).
Abeysekara A. (1999) Politics of Higher Ordination, Buddhist Monastic Identity, and Leadership at the Dambulla Temple in Sri Lanka. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, vol.22, no.2, pp.255–280.
Abeysekara A. (2002) Colors of the Robe: Religion, Identity, and Difference, Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.
Agrama H.A. (2012) Questioning Secularism: Islam, Sovereignty, and the Rule of Law in Modern Egypt, Chicago, IL; London: The University of Chicago Press.
Areerat K. (2016) Junta’s Latest Attempt to Regulate Faith suppresses Rights and Freedom: Experts. Prachatai English, 26 August.
Arjomand S.A. (2007) Islamic Constitutionalism. Annual Review of Law and Social Sciences, vol.3, no.1, pp.115–140.
Arjomand S.A. (ed.) (2008) Constitutional Politics in the Middle East: With special reference to Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, Oxford; Portland, OR: Hart Publishing.
Aung Thwin M. (1979) The Role of Sasana Reform in Burmese History: Economic Dimensions of a Religious Purification. Journal of Asian Studies, vol.38, no.4, pp.671–688.
Backer L.C. (2009) Theocratic Constitutionalism: An Introduction to a New Global Legal Ordering. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, vol.16, no.1, pp.85–172.
Baker Ch., Phongpaichit P. (transl., eds.) (2016) The Palace Law of Ayutthaya and the Thammasat: Law and Kingship in Siam, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Bâli A., Lerner H. (eds.) (2017) Constitution Writing, Religion and Democracy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bowie K. (2014) Of Buddhism and Militarism in Northern Thailand: Solving the Puzzle of the Saint Khruubaa Srivichai. Journal of Asian Studies, vol.73, no.3, pp.711–732.
Bowie K. (2014) The Saint with Indra’s Sword: Khruubaa Srivichai and Buddhist Millenarianism in Northern Thailand. Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol.56, no.3, pp.681–713.
Brown N.J. (2002) Constitutions in a Nonconstitutional World: Arab Basic Laws and the Prospects for Accountable Government, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Chaloemtiarana T. (2007) Thailand: The Politics of Despotic Paternalism, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Collins S. (1993) The Discourse on What is Primary (Aggañña-Sutta). Journal of Indian Philosophy, vol.21, no.4, pp.301–393.
Collins S. (1996) The Lion’s Roar on the Wheel-turning King: A Response to Andrew Huxley’s “The Buddha and the Social Contract”. Journal of Indian Philosophy, vol.24, no.4, pp.421–446.
Collins S. (1998) Nirvana and Other Buddhist Felicities: Utopias of the Pāli imaginaire, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Collins S., Huxley A. (1996) The Post-canonical Adventures of Mahāsammata. Journal of Indian Philosophy, vol.24, no.6, pp.623–648.
Cook D.M. (2009) Wat Phra Dhammakaya: Competition and authoritative conflict with the Thai monastic elite: unpublished M.A. dissertation, Tucson, AZ: Arizona State University.
Day T. (2002) Fluid Iron: State Formation in Southeast Asia, Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.
Easum T.M. (2013) A Thorn in Bangkok’s Side: Khruba Sriwichai, Sacred Space and the Last Stand of the Pre-modern Chiang Mai State. South East Asia Research, vol.21, no.2, pp.211–236.
Emon A.M. (2008) The Limits of Constitutionalism in the Muslim World: History and Identity in Islamic Law. In: Choudhry S. (ed.) Constitutional Design for Divided Societies: Integration or Accommodation? Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.258–286.
Engel D.M., Engel J.S. (2010) Tort, Custom, and Karma: Globalization and Legal Consciousness in Thailand, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Evers H.-D. (1967) Kinship and Property Rights in a Buddhist Monastery in Central Ceylon. American Anthropologist, vol.69, no.6, pp.703–710.
Evers H.-D. (1969) “Monastic Landlordism” in Ceylon: A Traditional System in a Modern Setting. Journal of Asian Studies, vol.28, no.4, pp.685–692.
Feldman N. (2010) Islamic Constitutionalism in Context: A Typology and a Warning. University of St. Thomas Law Journal, vol.7, no.3, pp.436–451.
French R.R. (2004) The Case of the Missing Discipline: Finding Buddhist Legal Studies. Buffalo Law Review, vol.52, no.3, pp.679–699.
Gokhale B.G. (1969) The Early Buddhist View of the State. Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol.89, no.4, pp.731–738.
Grote R., Röder T.J. (eds.) (2012) Constitutionalism in Islamic Countries: Between Upheaval and Continuity, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gunawardana R.A.L.H. (1979) Robe and plough: Monasticism and Economic Interest in Early Medieval Sri Lanka, Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.
Hallaq W.B. (2009) Shari’a: Theory, Practice, Transformations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Harding A. (2007) Buddhism, Human Rights and Constitutional Reform in Thailand. Asian Journal of Comparative Law, vol.2, no.1, pp.1–25.
Harris I. (2012) Buddhism in Cambodia Since 1993. In: Sothirak P., Wade G., Hong M. (eds.) Cambodia: Progress and Challenges Since 1991, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pp.320–336.
Harris I. (2016) Introduction to Buddhism and the Political Process: Patterns of Interaction. In: Kawanami H. (ed.) Buddhism and the Political Process, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.1–10.
Harrison R.V., Jackson P.A. (eds.) (2010) The Ambiguous Allure of the West: Traces of the colonial in Thailand, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Hirschl R. (2010) Constitutional Theocracy, Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press.
Hirschl R. (2014) Comparative Matters: The Renaissance of Comparative Constitutional Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hirschl R. (2015) Remembrance of Things Past. International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol.13, no.1, pp.1–8.
Holt J.H. (1991) Buddha in the Crown: Avalokitesvara in the Buddhist Traditions of Sri Lanka, New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hurvitz L. (1957) “Render unto Caesar” in Early Chinese Buddhism. Sino-Indian Studies, vol.5, no.3–4, pp.80–114.
Huxley A. (1996) Thai Law, Buddhist Law: Essays on the Legal History of Thailand, Laos, and Burma, Bangkok: White Orchid Press.
Ishii Y. (1986) Sangha, State, and Society: Thai Buddhism in History, Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.
Ishii Y. (1986) The Thai Thammasat (with a Note on the Lao Thammasat). In: Hooker M.B. (ed.) The Laws of South-East Asia, Singapore: Butterworths, pp.143–203.
Jirattikorn A. (2016) Buddhist Holy Man Khruba Bunchum: The Shift in a Millenarian Movement at the Thailand–Myanmar Border. Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, vol.31, no.2, pp.377–412.
Jory P. (2016) Thailand’s Theory of Monarchy: The Vessantara Jataka and the Idea of the Perfect Man, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Kemper S. (1980) Reform and Segmentation in Monastic Fraternities in Low Country Sri Lanka. Journal of Asian Studies, vol.40, no.1, pp.27–41.
Kemper S. (1984) The Buddhist Monkhood, The Law, and The State in Colonial Sri Lanka. Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol.26, no.3, pp.401–427.
Kemper S. (1991) The Presence of the Past: Chronicles, Politics, and Culture in Sinhala Life, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Keyes C.F. (1971) Buddhism and National Integration in Thailand. Journal of Asian Studies, vol.30, no.3, pp.551–567.
Khalil A. (2010) From Constitutions to Constitutionalism in Arab States: Beyond Paradox to Opportunity. Transnational Legal Theory, vol.1, no.3, pp.421–451.
Lammerts C. (2014) Genres and Jurisdictions: Laws Governing Monastic Inheritance in Seventeenth-Century Burma. In: French R.R., Nathan M.A. (eds.) Buddhism and Law: An Introduction, New York: Cambridge University Press, pp.183–197.
Lammerts C. (2018) Buddhist Law in Burma: A History of Dhammasattha Texts and Jurisprudence, c.1250–1850 CE, Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.
Larsson T. (2015) Monkish Politics in Southeast Asia: Religious Disenfranchisement in Comparative and Theoretical Perspective. Modern Asian Studies, vol.49, no.1, pp.40–82.
Larsson T. (2016) Keeping Monks in their Place? Asian Journal of Law and Society, vol.3, no.1, pp.17–28.
Lee D. (2014) Here There Be Dragons! Buddhist Constitutionalism in the Hidden Land of Bhutan. Australian Journal of Asian Law, vol.15, no.1, pp.1–19.
Lerner H. (2013) Permissive Constitutions, Democracy, and Religious Freedom in India, Indonesia, Israel, and Turkey. World Politics, vol.65, no.4, pp.609–655.
Lieberman V.B. (1980) The Political Significance of Religious Wealth in Burmese History: Some Further Thoughts. Journal of Asian Studies, vol.39, no.4, pp.753–769.
Lombardi C.B. (2013) Designing Islamic Constitutions: Past Trends and Options for a Democratic Future. International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol.11, no.3, pp.615–645.
Loos T. (2006) Subject Siam: Family, Law, and Colonial Modernity in Thailand, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Mackenzie R. (2007) New Buddhist Movements in Thailand: Towards an Understanding of Wat Phra Dhammakaya and Santi Asoke, London: Routledge.
Malalgoda K. (1976) Buddhism in Sinhalese Society, 1750–1900: A Study of Religious Revival and Change, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Matthews B. (1993) Buddhism under a Military Regime: The Iron Heel in Burma. Asian Survey, vol.33, no.4, pp.408–423.
McCargo D. (2012) The Changing Politics of Thailand’s Buddhist Order. Critical Asian Studies, vol.44, no.4, pp.627–642.
McDaniel J.T. (2011) The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magical Monk: Practicing Buddhism in Modern Thailand, New York: Columbia University Press.
Phadnis U. (1976) Religion and Politics in Sri Lanka, London: C.Hurst.
Quraishi-Landes A. (2015) Islamic Constitutionalism: Not Secular. Not Theocratic. Not Impossible. Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, vol.16, no.3, pp.553–579.
Reynolds C.J. (1973) The Buddhist Monkhood in Nineteenth Century Thailand: unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.
Reynolds F. (1972) The Two Wheels of Dhamma: A Study of Early Buddhism. In: Obeyesekere G., Reynolds F., Smith B.L. (eds.) The Two Wheels of Dhamma: Essays on the Theravada Tradition in India and Ceylon, Chambersburg, PA: American Academy of Religion, pp.6–30.
Samaraweera V. (1997) An “Act of Truth” in a Sinhala Court of Law: On Truth, Lies and Judicial Proof Among the Sinhala Buddhists. Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law, vol.5, no.1, pp.133–163.
Schonthal B. (2016) Buddhism, Politics and the Limits of Law: The Pyrrhic Constitutionalism of Sri Lanka, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Schonthal B. (2016) Securing the Sasana through Law: Buddhist Constitutionalism and Buddhist-interest Litigation in Sri Lanka. Modern Asian Studies, vol.50, no.6, pp.1966–2008.
Schonthal B. (2018) The Tolerations of Theravada Buddhism. In: Spencer V.A. (ed.) Tolerations in Comparative Perspective, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, pp.179–196.
Schonthal B., Ginsburg T. (2016) Setting an Agenda for the Socio-Legal Study of Contemporary Buddhism. Asian Journal of Law and Society, vol.3, no.1, pp.1–15.
Schonthal B., Welikala A. (2016) Buddhism and the Regulation of Religion in the New Constitution: Past Debates, Present Challenges, and Future Options: CPA Working Papers on Constitutional Reform, no.3. Available at: http://www.cpalanka.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Buddhism-and-the-regulation-of-religion-in-the-new-constitution-Working-Paper-3.pdf (accessed: 30.07.2018).
Scott R.M. (2006) A New Buddhist Sect?: The Dhammakāya Temple and the Politics of Religious Difference. Religion, vol.36, no.4, pp.215–230.
Scott R.M. (2009) Nirvana for Sale?: Buddhism, Wealth, and the Dhammakaya Temple in Contemporary Thailand, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Seeger M. (2006) The Bhikkhunī-Ordination Controversy in Thailand. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, vol.29, no.1, pp.155–183.
Skilling P. (2007) King, Sangha and Brahmans: Ideology, Ritual and Power in Premodern Siam. In: Harris I. (ed.) Buddhism, Power and Political Order, Abingdon; New York: Routledge, pp.182–215.
Stilt K.A. (2015) Contextualizing Constitutional Islam: The Malayan Experience. International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol.13, no.2, pp.407–433.
Strong J.S. (1989) The Legend of King Aśoka: A Study and Translation of the Aśokāvadāna, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Tambiah H.W. (1962) Buddhist Ecclesiastical Law. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol.8, no.1, pp.71–107.
Tambiah S.J. (1977) World Conqueror and World Renouncer: A Study of Buddhism and Polity in Thailand against a Historical Background, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tambiah S.J. (1978) The Buddhist Conception of Kingship and Its Historical Manifestations: A Reply to Spiro. Journal of Asian Studies, vol.37, no.4, pp.801–809.
Tambiah S.J. (1989) King Mahasammata: The First King in the Buddhist Story of Creation, and his Persisting Relevance. Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford, vol.20, no.2, pp.101–122.
Taylor J.L. (1990) New Buddhist Movements in Thailand: An “Individualistic Revolution”, Reform and Political Dissonance. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol.21, no.1, pp.135–154.
Thapar R. (1973) Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Theerasuvat P. (2014) Buddhism as a Factor in Thai Politics: 1963–1992: unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Tin Maung Maung Than (1998) The “Sangha” and “Sasana” in Socialist Burma. Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, vol.3, no.1, pp.26–61.
Walshe M. (transl.) (2005) The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya, Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.
Walton M. (2016) Buddhism, Politics and Political Thought in Myanmar, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Weerasooria W.S. (2011) Buddhist Ecclesiastical Law: A Treatise on Sri Lankan Statute Law and Judicial Decisions on Buddhist Temples and Temporalities, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka: Sarasavi Publishers.
Whitecross R.W. (2014) Buddhism and Constitutions in Bhutan. In: French R.R., Nathan M.A. (eds.) Buddhism and Law: an Introduction, New York: Cambridge University Press, pp.350–367.
Woodhouse G.W. (1917) “Sissiyanu Sissiya Paramparava” and Other Laws Relating to the Buddhist Priesthood. Ceylon Antiquary & Literary Register, vol.3, no.3, pp.174–186.
Zehner E. (1990) Reform Symbolism of a Thai Middle-Class Sect: The Growth and Appeal of the Thammakai Movement. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol.21, no.2, pp.402–426.